Science fiction is a genre rich with potential. Any good author can pull a compelling story out of it so long as they have a wealth of ideas. At least one or two of these ideas should relate to the story’s technology, as futuristic tech is often one of the biggest differences between the story’s setting and our present. If you’re looking for some ideas on how you can outfit your story with the latest in speculative science, here are six technology considerations for your futuristic sci-fi novel.
Given that our homes are loaded with all sorts of technology (you’re reading this on some right now), it’s natural that your characters will have their own everyday tech needs to fulfill. Figuring out what kinds of devices the average person in your setting uses and what your major characters have access to is a great way to build your world and flesh out both the setting and characters. It’s also handy for establishing a baseline of technology for the universe, making it easy to tell what is more or less advanced than the average person might have on hand by comparison.
What would a future TV look like, for example? A gaming system? A phone? Things like holograms and augmented reality are already somewhat viable in the present, so imagine what they’d be like down the road. Bulky electronics of any kind might be a thing of the past when you can project images on any surface or simply see them inside the lenses of a pair of glasses.
Transportation is important for any story that’s not set in a single room. Science fiction stories, however, allow an author to really dig deep and come up with some creative solutions to get their characters from point A to point B. Everyone’s familiar with flying cars and starships, meaning that standing out is all a matter of how you can put your own spin on things.
One of your first considerations should be whether or not your setting involves things like space travel or travel between universes as this greatly changes the type of vehicle most characters may have. If people can routinely go to space and visit other planets, the idea of single person spacecrafts may be a popular all-purpose mode of transportation, maneuvering near the ground or out in space with equal ease. It’s also worth considering how easy something like this would be to control, opening up the possibility that these futuristic modes of transport might only be viable for those with great skill as pilots.
There’s a whole new dimension to consider in your writing when it comes to health technology. What will the hospitals of the future look like? How is healthcare managed? Does insurance still exist? Answering simple questions like these provide a new depth of worldbuilding that helps your setting feel real and lived in.
It’s also worth considering what kind of health technology characters may have on their person at any given time. The world of today has wearable health monitoring devices like Fitbits and medical alert systems, meaning it’s not unreasonable to think there might be some version of this in the future. For instance, modern medical alert systems enable the user to just press a button for rapid response help, so maybe a medical alert system of the future could automatically send for help if vitals reach a certain threshold, use faster AI-based “paramedics”, or even administer basic first aid.
War may never change but the way it’s waged certainly does. While the atomic bomb is essentially the pinnacle of warfare in our modern era, will that be true 100 years from now? If conflict is a part of your story, thinking about the kinds of weapons technology at the disposal of your characters opens up a whole new world of creative battles and confrontation.
Both on a large and small scale, the type of weaponry characters can use should be accounted for. AI drones could have replaced ground soldiers entirely, for example. Laser-based weapons could be a fun way to dress up any type of standard weapon from a knife to a gun, especially if you consider how older technology would interact. If your setting has robots of any level of sentience, consider how they might be used in combat or how they might react to violence done against them, too.
The future isn’t all fun and games but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any to be found. One often overlooked part of building a compelling and realistic fictional world is the type of recreation people have when they’re not working in the corporations or fighting for freedom. Thinking about the type of technology people use for play will quickly make your work more interesting and gives you a chance to showcase characters in a more mellow setting.
VR is the hot new thing in gaming, so maybe in the future its influence has spread considerably. There could be entire worlds of VR for characters to explore with their own rules to figure out. Do paper books still exist or have they all been replaced by digital? What about things like card games, bicycles, and sports? More importantly, how have these types of analog games changed and adapted with the advent of technology?
In many sci-fi stories, especially those of the cyberpunk or dystopia variety, surveillance is a major issue for characters. A lack of privacy from an industrialized future under the thumb of corporate overlords is a rich setting you can do a lot with that also lets you draw parallels to our present society. Even if you don’t choose to go this route, taking into account what type of privacy concerns your characters should have is still a good worldbuilding detail.
For a spy story, maybe characters have access to miniaturized cameras that can move around on their own styled after literal bugs. Our own technology is being made smaller and smaller, so it’s not unlikely a camera or microphone could be slipped into just about anything. What if clothing comes equipped with biometric or tracking features that keep tabs on citizens wherever they are, too?
Building a world is both the most challenging and most rewarding part of creating any story. Try out these six technology considerations when crafting your sci-fi novel to be sure your setting is richer and more realistic than the rest.
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